Tag Archives: Small Plates

{ Brushetta with Prosciutto, Ricotta, Apples, & Olives }

Before almost every meal at my house, I find that there are a few moments where everyone gathers around the kitchen center island, anxiously waiting for dinner to finish cooking. The table has already been set, but the meat may need to rest another minute before carving, or the sauce may have to reduce a bit more before serving. It is during this time that I like to “pre-game” for dinner (confessions of a fat girl) with an appetizer–and bruschetta is always at the top of my list! I steal a few slices of baguette from the bread basket, toast ‘em in the oven or on the grill, and then top them off with any and every thing that I can find in the fridge.

This week, my little sister Ella, turned me onto a new layering of ingredients and flavors, which included; sliced granny smith apples, creamy ricotta cheese, chopped kalamata olives, and thinly sliced prosciutto.  Not going to lie, I had some reservations about these particular food combinations at first, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the sweet and salty contrast of the prosciutto and ricotta. The slightly tart bite of apple also added another unexpected dimension to the plate, and was a refreshing palate cleanser in-between toasts.

If I were to serve this at a party (which I certainly will in the future!), I would allow the guests to create their own toasts by serving the ingredients separately, this way everyone can have exactly the toppings they want. The dish is so simple and relatively inexpensive (cost of ingredients averaging $10 for 6 servings), but it very important that you use quality ingredients–high grade (or homemade) ricotta is a  MUST! (I suggest Wegman’s brand for $3.00). I also suggest that you season the ricotta with a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper before serving it…it adds more umph–and looks pretty!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 baguette, sliced on diagonal, 1″ thickness
  • 2 cups high quality (or homemade) ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 granny smith apples, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto

{ To Make the Bruschetta Toasts } Use a silicon brush to coat the sliced baguettes with extra virgin olive oil. Place them on the grill, turning until well toasted on each side (about 3 minutes per side). NOTE: You can also toast the bread in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees, which takes about 5 minutes.

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Honey ****

Spring Chicken Flatbread with Asparagus, Melted Leeks, Preserved Lemon, Goat Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella, and Black Truffle Oil

215.489.4200
42 Shewell Avenue
Doylestown, Pa 18901

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To say that fine dining options are fairly limited in Doylesytown, Pennsylvania–my hometown consisting of about 9,000 people–is an understatement. And as I routinely complain in my blog, the only fine dining is Italian food, so you’re shit-out-of-luck if you aren’t in the mood for pasta. When my parents told me to pick a restaurant to celebrate my 22nd birthday this week, I found myself completely stumped on places to go. In fact, I ended up just eating at home to avoid the inevitable restaurant disappointment! But my parents didn’t think that the backyard BBQ was celebratory enough, so they surprised me and took me to Honey restaurant the following night.Although Honey isn’t new to Doylestown, it is new to me. Obviously, I wasn’t been able to keep up with the food scene in Philly while at school in Miami, and when I was home on holidays and breaks, I was too busy eating my mom’s cooking to get out to restaurants.

Honey is a modern and trendy little spot located right off of main street in Doylestown. It’s actually so elegant and chic that I completely forgot I was in Doylestown once inside (which was nice!). We got started with some drinks from their eclectic and creative cocktail menu, including their Black Cherry Mojito ($13) and the Alma Calma ($12). The mojito was made with Black Seal Dark Rum, Spiced Cherry Puree, Mint, Lime, and Wishniak Cherry Soda. I was nervous about ordering a mojito in hickville Pennslyvania after spending the past four years living in Miami (the mojito capital), but I was very pleasantly surprised after trying the drink, which even included a nice stick of raw sugarcane in the glass. The Alma Calma includes Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey, Ginger Infused Brandy, Fresh Lime, and Elderflower Essence…also delicious!

Before we even placed our order, the server brought out a complementary Tuna Melt Bite for everyone at the table, as a “gift” from the kitchen. It was Tuna, Melted Manchego Cheese, Kalamata Olives, and Cherry Tomato backed on top of a Petite Toast. I would have ordered this delicious sampler as a meal if I could of but sadly, it wasn’t on the menu. This salty started certainly got my appetite going though!

Complimentary Tuna Melt with Manchego Cheese, Kalamata Olives, and Cherry Tomato

Next the server brought out some Popcorn with 15 Spices as a snack while we waited for our food. 15 spices sounds very flavorful, but I was unimpressed by the popcorn and oddly, thought it was bland (especially for having 15 spices!!)

Popcorn with 15 Spices

Since Honey is a tapas styled restaurant featuring small plates, my family and I decided to order 3 different dishes and share them equally. We started with an order of Fried Catfish served with Remoulada Sauce and Crab Meat Succotash ($18). The Succotash was ridiculously good (as well as abundant) and I loved the spicy remoulada sauce on the fried fish. The fish was a nice portion with two large pieces on the plate, and it was cooked to perfection.

Fried Catfish with Remoulada Sauce and Crab Meat and Corn Succotash

Next came the order of Spring Chicken Flatbread with Smoked Amish Chicken, Asparagus, Melted Leeks, Preserved Lemon, Goat Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella and Black Truffle Oil ($14 – photographed at top). It was more like a pizza than a flatbread in my opinion, because the crust was pretty doughy and thick, however, it was tasty. I just don’t think that I would order it again though since the other two dishes were more inspired and delicious. Also, I don’t think that the flavors of the truffle oil came through in the dish, which was a little disappointing.

The last plate to come out was the Tuna Ceviche made with Sushi Grade Yellowfin Tuna, Breakfast Radish, Ruby Grapefruit, Cashews, and Chilled Green Tea Noodles ($18). I really liked the combination of the acidic grapefruit with the tuna, and thought that the green tea noodles were a very fun accompaniment to the dish.  They had a nice soy flavor and the cashews added a great little crunch to each bite! This is something I would order again, but I didn’t think that portion size qualified an $18 price tag, which was my only complaint with the restaurant.

Tuna Ceviche with Ruby Grapefruit, Cashews, Radish, and Chilled Green Tea Noodles

Overall, I thought that the food was very good, but that there wasn’t any dish in particular that I would specifically crave again–besides the Tuna Melt Starter perhaps! My parents did warn me that the best thing that they have tried on the menu was the Black Tea Glazed Spare Ribs with Pine Nuts, Toasted Sesame, and Spicy Ginger Ice Cream (yes, ice cream and pork….together!), but we didn’t order it because they wanted to try some new things. I regret not ordering this dish, because had I liked it as much as they do, it would have been a dish that would call me back in the future. I mean how many places do you know serving meat and ice cream in one dish?! It is a very unique and specific menu item like this that keeps a crowd returning because they can’t satisfy their craving elsewhere. Tonight, I didn’t have anything that was extraordinary or unavailable elsewhere…so I suggest ordering the most unique menu items here rather than playing it safe like we did!

Black Tea Glazed Spare Ribs with Spicy Ginger Ice Cream – Taken from Honey Facebook Site

This being said, I must now say that I have never EVER had better restaurant service in my life. The service and the atmosphere at Honey was absolutely impeccable from beginning to end. Our server knew the menu by heart and was able to talk about the food at length, and he was just a genuinely nice guy. Although I only gave Honey 4 stars for food, the service gets at least 15 stars!!

The Front of Honey Restaurant – Taken from Honey Facebook Site

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Gigi ****

Steak Chow Fun with Mushrooms and Eggplant Served Over Thick Egg Noodles

305.573.1520
3470 North Miami Ave
Miami, Fl 33127

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When I go to a restaurant for the first time, I usually disclose the fact that I have a food blog and then ask the waiter what the top three menu items are, based on both their personal opinion and customer popularity. I do this for a few reasons; (1) I am hoping that they will try to “buy” a good review from me in exchange for some samples of free food and preferential service (but don’t worry, I am completely honest in my reviews and won’t be bought by a free appetizer!), (2) I really do like to try the signature dishes that a place is best known for, and (3) it narrows down the menu substantially and takes the guess work out of ordering!

When I arrived at Gigi in Midtown for the first time, I went through my usual routine and was happy and surprised to find that the waiter was equally as obsessed with food as I was (keep in mind that this is very unusual). I asked for some suggestions and he lit up, listing off his personal favorites and customer’s top picks. The limited menu is divided into sections labeled: basics, buns, raw, noodles, snacks, and rice bowls (the place is clearly Pan-Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine!).

To start, he recommended the Tuna Roll from the raw menu, which was similar to sushi (minus the rice) with Tuna, Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus. The ingredients seem so simple, but the flavors are very full and clean. The citrus compliments the tuna, and the thin cucumber casing adds a nice crunch to the soft texture of the tuna and avocado.

Raw Tuna Roll with Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus

Next we got an order of the Grilled Butternut Squash off the snack menu, served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions. The squash was cooked to perfect with a nice black char from the grill on the edges, yet it was still super sweet. The yogurt sauce was nice and light, so it complimented the dish without over powering it. After polishing off our first round of squash, we went ahead and ordered a second….yes, it is that good!

Grilled Butternut Squash served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions

We also placed an order for the Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions. This dish—also off the snack menu—looked very similar to the butternut squash, but it wasn’t nearly as good! Everyone’s forks attacked the butternut squash until it was gone, and then we slowly picked at the sweet potato….until the second order of squash arrived, of course! There was nothing wrong with the potatoes; they just looked too similar to the better tasting squash dish.

Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions

Next the waiter surprised us and brought out an order of Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower for the table to sample. The vegetables were roasted and then tossed with fresh bacon and soy. The reason that I didn’t order them myself, is because I knew that I would compare them to the brussel sprouts served at Sugarcane, which are out of this freaking world! After trying Sugarcane’s version of brussel sprouts, I can no longer enjoy them prepared any other way, and even though the waiter tried to convert me to Gigis, they still didn’t hold a candle to Sugarcanes. They were tasty, but Sugarcane’s are simply incredible. Success on getting some free food though, right?!?

Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower with Bacon and Soy

For my main dish, I ordered the Steak Chow Fun, which is sliced steak, mushroom, and eggplant, served over thick egg noodles (photographed at top of blog). I was a little surprised by the density and size of the noodles, which were like Italian paparedelle noodles. Most Asian noodles are very thin and delicate, and so this was unusual for me, but the dish was absolutely incredible! The meat was cooked just to my liking; it was very juicy and tender. The sauce that everything was tossed in had a great garlic-soy flavor, and it had the rich consistency of an eel sauce so it adhered nicely to the pasta. The mushrooms were little bites of heaven, it was like finding gold whenever I came across one with my chopsticks!

And finally, just when I thought the meal was over, the waiter brought out a miniature soft ice cream cone for everyone at the table (more free food, yay!) And of course, once the sweetness hit my lips, I wanted more. So, I walked myself over to the bar area and ordered up some cookies: Peanut Butter Chunk and Classic Chocolate Chip. These cookies are enormous and only $2!!!! It’s one of the best food deals that I have seen yet, especially since the cookies are amazingly delicious! I rarely want more than a couple bites of a cookie and I had no problem devouring the entire peanut butter monstrosity. I think my friend’s face captures just how delicious they were!

Miniature Soft-Serve Ice Cream Cones

Peanut Butter Cookie

The Amazingness of the Gigi Chocolate Chip Cookie

Overall, Gigi is an amazing place to grab a bite at any time, and especially late night. They are revolutionizing and redefining drunk-eating by staying open till 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights, and 3 am on week nights. I love everything about this place, and make sure you save room for one of the cookies!!

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Mercadito ***

Tacos Pescados, which were tilapia, chile poblano, and tomatillo-garlic mojo

786.369.0430
3252 NE 1st Ave
Miami, Fl 33137

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My roommate, Ariana, and I are always looking to get a deal—we call it finagling. We finagle our way into clubs and shows without paying, we finagle lower prices at clothing stores, and we love to finagle free food (this may be the reason that Whole Foods in Sunset stopped offering samples, our apologies!). However, when we can’t finagle food for free, we at least try to get it at a better price. So this week Ariana spent some time researching (a.k.a googling) weeknight food specials at local restaurants. She knew he found a winner when she came across Mercadito’s Taco Tuesdays! Mercadito is a very popular and trendy restaurant located in midtown, directly next to Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. They are known for their wide variety and changing seasonal menu of tacos, guacamoles, and salsas. The prices are fairly steep for Mexican fair—with pre-fix dinner costing $35 per person and lunch tacos costing 3 for $10.50—but on Tuesday nights you can get tacos for just $2.50 (minimum 2) and margaritas for $5. This was in our budget and so we tried it out for our first time this past Tuesday.

We started off with an order of Traditional Margaritas and an Auntie Ox, which is green tea infused vodka, passion fruit, agave, orange, and guajillo. The margaritas were stronger when ordered from the table than the bar, and Ariana claimed that the Auntie Ox was the best drink that she has ever tried yet.

Mercadito Traditional Margarita

Auntie Ox

Next we ordered a Traditional Guacamole, made with avocado, garlic, key lime, cilantro, and tomatillo pico de gallo and a Habanero Salsa made with grilled tomato, garlic, chile habanero, and lemon. The guacamole was very good and a good portion, but I thought that it was kind of ridiculous to have to pay $3 per little dish of salsa. We went through two dishes among three people, and we didn’t even get to use it on our tacos. Despite our waiter’s warning about the heat of the habanero salsa (which does sounds intimidating), we all agreed that the salsa was not spicy! It had a great flavor, but I still needed tobasco sauce to get my spice.

Traditional Guacamole made with avocado, garlic, key lime, cilantro, and tomatillo pico de gallo

Habanero Salsa made with grilled tomato, garlic, chile habanero, and lemon

As far as tacos go, we pretty much ordered every kind on the menu. First we got the Chicken Tacos, with grilled chicken, cactus salad, tomatillo salsa, and avocado. This was my favorite taco because I felt like it had the most toppings and flavor. Each bite was juicy and flavorful.

Chicken Tacos, with grilled chicken, cactus salad, tomatillo salsa, and avocado

Next were the Carnitas Tacos, with Michoacan style braised pork, chile de arbol coleslaw, and toasted peanuts. The flavor was almost Asian inspired on this taco, with the crushed peanuts reminding me of pad thai. The pulled pork was very tender and flavorful but the coleslaw was lacking.

Carnitas Tacos, with Michoacan style braised pork, chile de arbol coleslaw, and toasted peanuts

Then came the Tacos al Pastor, with chile ancho rubbed pork, grilled pineapple, and chile de arbol salsa. There weren’t a lot of components to this taco but it was yummy in its simplicity. The spice of the salsa was a nice contrast with the pineapple and the meat was very good.

Tacos al Pastor, with chile ancho rubbed pork, grilled pineapple, and chile de arbol salsa

As I loosened up my belt a notch, the next order of tacos were brought to the table—Carne Tacos, with skirt steak, grilled pear, shaved brussel sprouts, chile de arbol vinaigrette, and crispy leeks. I was the most excited for this particular taco because of how many components the menu described, but I found it very disappointing, because I felt like a lot of those items were missing or undetectable when served.

Carne Tacos, with skirt steak, grilled pear, shaved brussel sprouts, chile de arbol vinaigrette, and crispy leeks

And last but not least, we got an order of the Tacos Pescados, which were tilapia, chile poblano, and tomatillo-garlic mojo. I am not that big into fish tacos, but these were tasty…still not my thing though (pictured at top).

Overall, I thought that the portions were very small and that although the tacos were good, they were not mind blowing or sensational. I would have been just as happy (and a little better off financially) if I had just eaten a burrito from Chipotle. Also had the prices not been happy hour specials, I would have been dumbfounded when the bill arrived, because even with the happy hour menu, we ended up paying $35 per person! I think that the food is good and that the atmosphere is very pleasant, but I do not think it deserves the price it commands. I would definitely suggest trying the Mercadito experience, but only on a Taco Tuesday night.

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